HomeAustriaNo short flights: these European countries may ban domestic flights

No short flights: these European countries may ban domestic flights

In France, a law has come into force that prohibits flights between cities, the distance between which can be covered in less than 2.5 hours by train. Which European countries can follow the French example?

France officially banned short-haul flights last week. According to the law, distances that can be covered in less than 2.5 hours by train can no longer be traveled by plane. In addition, there must be enough trains during the day to allow travelers to spend at least eight hours at their destination.

The Minister of Transport of the country, Clement Bon, called these measures “an important step and a significant symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Europe is aiming to revolutionize rail transport and encourage people to choose trains over planes. Could the new law be the first of many?

Does the public support a ban on short-haul flights?

According to a 2020 European Investment Bank poll, a ban on short-haul flights was supported by more than 60% of respondents.

And in 2021, Greenpeace demanded a ban on flights between cities in the EU, the distance between which can be covered by train in less than six hours.

In an interview with the news after the signing of the French law, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Mobility Minister Georges Zhilkinet called on the EU to follow the example of Paris, as well as to expand the network of night trains and improve rail links in general.

Short haul flight ban in France

The idea of banning short-haul flights was first proposed in 2021 as part of France’s climate law and has been fiercely resisted by the aviation industry.

The government has won over Air France by offering financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was originally proposed to impose a limit on flights that can be made in less than four hours by train, but due to objections from the airlines, this idea was abandoned.

As a result, only three routes fell under the law: from Paris-Orly airport to Bordeaux, Nantes, and Lyon. Those flights were already canceled in 2020, so basically the law just ensures they can’t be returned.

The original plan called for a ban on five more routes from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport: to Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes, and Rennes, as well as from Lyon to Marseille. But these flights were kept because the schedule did not allow travelers to arrive early enough and depart late enough, and the airports were far from train stations.

Critics said it was just a token contribution to climate change that would cut carbon emissions only marginally. Transport & Environment estimates that this is only 0.3% of the emissions produced by aircraft departing from the French mainland.

Clément Beaune responded to statements about greenwashing on Twitter, assuring that more flights will be canceled in the future when the ban is reviewed.

“The decree is in effect for three years, so we can be more ambitious as we move forward, increasing travel time from 2.5 hours to at least 3 hours in the future,” he said.

Where else in Europe are they planning to ban short-haul flights?

In 2021, Spain presented a plan to ban short-haul flights by 2050 in cases where the destination can be reached by train in less than 2.5 hours. This could mean a ban on flights from Madrid to anywhere on the mainland.

According to government estimates, this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two million tons. The plan also includes a frequent flyer tax and a travel levy based on the proximity of the final destination.

In 2020, Austria placed conditions on a COVID-19 package to rescue its flag carrier, Austria Airlines.

The government bailed out the airline after it canceled all flights between cities that take less than three hours by train. It also introduced a €30 tax on flights under 350 km. Only one route was affected – from Vienna to Salzburg.

In recent years, Germany has also sought to reduce the attractiveness of short-haul air travel. In 2020, it increased taxes on domestic and intra-European flights by 75%.

Belgium has also introduced a €10 tax on short-haul flights less than 500 km from Brussels Airport.

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